Why marijuana businesses won't be allowed in downtown East Dundee

  • East Dundee has approved zoning regulations that would limit marijuana operations to a specific area on the east side of town, including properties fronting Route 25.

    East Dundee has approved zoning regulations that would limit marijuana operations to a specific area on the east side of town, including properties fronting Route 25. Associated Press

Updated 2/28/2020 6:59 PM

The East Dundee village board has backed an advisory panel's recommendation to keep marijuana dispensaries out of the downtown.

Instead, all cannabis operations will be limited to an "overlay" zoning district encompassing commercial and industrial properties on the east side of town -- including parcels along both sides of Route 25, trustees decided in a unanimous vote this week.


Each business will require a special use permit, meaning East Dundee officials will evaluate applicants on a case-by-case basis.

The ordinance is similar to a proposal supported earlier this month by the planning and zoning commission, with one key difference: Members of the panel initially suggested not allowing pot shops along the frontage of the high-traffic roadway, locally known as Dundee Avenue.

Trustees on Tuesday said incorporating properties immediately east and west of Route 25 into the overlay district could create opportunities to fill vacancies within some shopping centers, such as the River Valley Square and the former Walmart.

Those developments have adequate parking to accommodate the large crowds witnessed at other suburban dispensaries since the state law legalizing adult-use marijuana took effect Jan. 1, they said.

The village board initially proposed allowing cannabis businesses in various zoning districts, including the downtown and the adjacent Route 72 corridor, rather than creating a special overlay district. But several community members have expressed their opposition for bringing such a use into the core business district.

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The downtown has been developed in recent years into a unique, family-friendly destination not suitable for marijuana operations, said local investor Tom Roeser, president of Carpentersville's Otto Engineering. He said he fears a dispensary would drive away visitors and future investors.

Citing safety and image concerns, representatives from Immanuel Lutheran Church and School asked that the village require a 1,500-foot buffer between any dispensary and sensitive use, such as their property at East Main and South Van Buren streets. The approved overlay district exceeds that request.

Though the downtown area may not be the best location, East Dundee resident Lucy DeLap said marijuana businesses should be visible and easily accessible to help generate more revenue. East Dundee trustees voted last September to implement a 3% tax on all recreational pot sales.

"I just want us to stop operating from a point of fear and start operating from a point of what's practical," she said.

According to the ordinance, dispensaries would be permitted on parcels within the overlay district that are zoned as a service business or limited manufacturing use. Cultivation centers and similar businesses would be restricted to the manufacturing areas.

At least one parking spot is required per 150 square feet of floor area, with a minimum of 20 spaces. All operations would need to submit site, disposal, ventilation and security plans.

The village board also unanimously approved separate business regulations reiterating state law requirements and adding some parameters pertaining to odor, inspections, hours of operation and marijuana sales. The measure also allows the on-site consumption of cannabis within a dispensary when authorized by a special use permit.

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